|Publication number||US6424251 B1|
|Application number||US 09/709,844|
|Publication date||Jul 23, 2002|
|Filing date||Nov 10, 2000|
|Priority date||Nov 10, 1999|
|Also published as||US6650231|
|Publication number||09709844, 709844, US 6424251 B1, US 6424251B1, US-B1-6424251, US6424251 B1, US6424251B1|
|Inventors||Matthew T. Byrne|
|Original Assignee||Matthew T. Byrne|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (6), Referenced by (47), Classifications (8), Legal Events (7)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/164,580, filed Nov. 10, 1999, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
The present invention is systems and methods for alerting users of personal electronic devices to the occurrence of an event on one or more of those electronic devices.
In recent years, the use of a wide variety of personal electronic devices has achieved immense popularity. These devices include portable telephones, pagers, portable and hand-held email systems, palm-top or portable computers, and many other similar devices. When using each of these devices, there may be times when it is desirable to alert the user of the occurrence of an event. For example, with a portable telephone (e.g., a cellular telephone), it may be desirable to alert the user that a call is being received. As another example, with a pager, it may be desirable to alert the user to the receipt of a page.
With most or all of these devices, the user may typically be alerted to the occurrence of an event using an audible tone or series of tones, such as a ring, beep, etc. Unfortunately, however, these sounds are frequently found to be objectionable to persons in the vicinity of the user, especially when in environments such as restaurants, movie theaters, certain sporting events (such as golf and tennis events), trains, busses, libraries, etc.
Similarly, when in loud environments, these audible alerts might not be heard by the user. Such loud environments may include restaurants, bars, clubs, musical concerts, crowded sidewalks, automobiles, sporting events, etc.
To overcome these problems with audible alerts, many devices include a vibration alert that causes the device to vibrate when an alert is necessary. However, when the user is not wearing the device or in direct contact with the device (such as when the device is in a brief case, purse, backpack, or when the user has set aside the device), the alert may not be felt.
Therefore, it is an object of the invention to provide systems and methods for alerting a user of one or more personal electronic devices to the occurrence of an event relating to one or more of those devices.
It is also an object of the invention, to provide a mechanism for automatically placing personal electronic devices into a quiet mode in order to prevent the devices from disturbing persons near the devices.
In accordance with these and other objects of the present invention, systems and methods for alerting users of personal electronic devices are provided. In a first aspect of the invention, these systems and methods alert a user to the occurrence of an event in one or more of the devices by receiving a wireless transmission from the device(s) and then by providing an acoustic, optical, electrical, or mechanical stimulus to the user. In a second aspect of the invention, these systems and methods may also provide a quiet mode control mechanism through which personal electronic devices are automatically put into a low volume or silent alert operation mode so as to not disturb persons in the vicinity of the devices. This control mechanism may use a wireless transmitter to transmit a signal to any personal electronic device within a given area.
Further features of the invention, its nature and various advantages will be more apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters refer to like parts throughout, and in which:
FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a personal electronic device and an alert mechanism in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a more detailed block diagram of a personal electronic device and an alert mechanism in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a block diagram of an alert mechanism in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 4 is a flow diagram of a process for a personal electronic device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 5 is a block diagram of a control mechanism and a personal electronic device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 6 is a more detailed block diagram of a control mechanism and a personal electronic device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 7 is an illustration of an area covered by two control mechanisms for controlling personal electronic devices in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 8 is a flow diagram of a process for a personal electronic device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention; and
FIG. 9 is a block diagram of a control mechanism, a personal electronic device, and an alert mechanism in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
Turning to FIG. 1, an illustrative embodiment 10 of the first aspect of the present invention is shown. As can be seen, embodiment 10 includes a personal electronic device 12 and an alert mechanism 14. In order to cause an alert to be generated by alert mechanism 14, device 12 preferably transmits signal 16 to mechanism 14. Signal 16 may also be used to convey information present in device 12 to mechanism 14.
FIG. 2 shows a more detailed embodiment 20 of the first aspect of the present invention. As illustrated, personal electronic device 22 may comprise a transmitter 23. Transmitter 23 may transmit a signal 26 to a wrist watch 25 that contains an alert mechanism 24. When signal 26 is received by alert mechanism 24, the mechanism may indicate to the user that an event has occurred in personal electronic device 22. Transmitter 23 may be configured to identify the personal electronic device having the event (such as the user's phone), identify the type of event on the device (such as that fact that the phone is ringing or the phone's battery is low), and identify particulars of the event (such as the telephone number or the phone's battery level).
Although a wrist watch 25 is shown in FIG. 2, alert mechanism 24 may be incorporated into any item that is frequently worn by, near, or in contract with the body of the user of one or more electronic devices. This item may include a belt, a hearing aid, a piece of jewelry, an article of clothing, a hat or helmet, footwear, glasses, a key chain, or any other suitable device. Alternatively, alert mechanism 24 may be a stand-alone device that is not incorporated into another device. To notify the user of the occurrence of an event, alert mechanism 24 may contain a vibration unit, an audible unit, an electrical stimulus unit, an optical alert unit, or any other suitable mechanism for getting the user's attention. Signal 26 may be transmitted using any suitable wireless transmission technology, and may be encoded to include information about the event, such as the device transmitting the signal (such as a phone), the nature of the event (such as that the phone is ringing), and particulars of the event (such as a phone number causing the phone to ring).
FIG. 3 illustrates one embodiment of an alert mechanism 30 in accordance with the present invention. As shown, alert mechanism 30 may include an antenna 32, a wireless receiver 34, a processor 36, and an alert unit 38. Alert unit 38 may contain a vibration unit and an optical indicator, although not shown. Wireless receiver 34 preferably operates to receive a low power radio signal. In this way, mechanism 30 can contain the smallest battery possible. Alert mechanism 30 is preferably configured so that the vibration unit is located in close proximity to the user's skin, and the optical indicator is preferably a liquid crystal display that can be viewed by the user.
Turning to FIG. 4, a process 40 for operation in a personal electronic device is illustrated. As shown, when an event occurs in the personal electronic device at step 44, the device determines whether the device is setup to use an alert mechanism. Whether the device is setup may be based upon a setting in a configuration of the personal electronic device. If the device is not setup to use an alert mechanism, the device may use a normal alert (such as generating a tone or vibrating) at step 48. Otherwise, the device may trigger the transmitter to transmit a signal to the receiver in the alert mechanism to indicate that the event occurred, and the nature and particulars of the event, if so configured, at step 49. The receiver in the alert mechanism may then receive the signal and cause the vibration unit to vibrate, and the optical indicator to indicate the nature and particulars of the event, if so configured.
Because the alert mechanism may be in the proximity of personal electronic devices of other persons, the alert mechanism's receiver is preferably configurable to only alert the user to signals received from the user's personal electronic devices, or the transmitter in the user's personal electronic devices may be configurable to transmit to only the receiver in the user's alert mechanism. For example, the receiver in the user's alert mechanism may be assigned a unique serial number (e.g., a combination of a manufacturer code and a manufacturer's serial number) to which each of the user's personal electronic devices have to be programmed so that they only transmit a signal to that device. Alternatively, the user's alert mechanism may be programmed to only respond to signals from personal electronic devices having unique serial numbers programmed into the alert mechanism.
Turning to FIG. 5, an embodiment 50 of the present invention in accordance with the second aspect of the invention is shown. As shown, a quiet mode control mechanism 52 is provided through which personal electronic devices 54 may automatically be put into a low volume or silent alert operation mode so as not to disturb persons in the vicinity of the devices. This may be done by transmitting a signal 56 from mechanism 52 to device 54. As illustrated in FIG. 6, a control mechanism 62 preferably includes a wireless transmitter 63 that is set up in the region to be put in a quiet mode, and each of the compatible devices 65 may include a wireless receiver 64 that causes the device to be put into a low volume (in which audible alert are set to a low volume) or silent mode (in which audible alerts are turned off and only mechanical, electrical, or optical alerts are used) when a corresponding signal 66 is received from transmitter 63.
For example, in one implementation of the invention, as shown in FIG. 7, a restaurant 71 may be set up with two low power radio transmitters 72 and 73 that output a signal sufficient to reach only persons inside and in the area immediately surrounding the restaurant's building as indicated by areas 74 and 75. Such an arrangement could be verified by the installer of the transmitters checking the amplitude of the signals at a given perimeter and adjusting the amplitude if necessary.
When a compliant cellular phone 76 that contains a receiver that is compatible with the restaurant's transmitters 72 and 73 enters either of areas 74 and 75 (as illustrated, area 75), the phone will receive a signal from the corresponding transmitter (as illustrated, transmitter 73) that causes the phone to enter a vibrate-only mode in which no audible alert is made to the user, or that causes the phone to enter some other suitable quiet mode.
FIG. 8 illustrates a process 80 for a personal electronic device operating in accordance with one embodiment of the second aspect of the invention. As shown, at steps 82 and 83, process 80 determines whether a signal was received from a control mechanism transmitter. If a signal was not received, then process 80 loops back to step 82. Otherwise, process 80 causes the personal electronic device to enter a quiet mode at step 84. The quiet mode may be entered at step 84 for only a fixed period of time so that after the personal electronic device has been removed from the area containing the control mechanism for at least the fixed period of time, the personal electronic device will exit the quiet mode.
When the present invention is implemented in accordance with both the first and second aspects of the present invention, each of a control mechanism 91, a personal electronic device 92, and an alert mechanism 93 may be used as shown in FIG. 9. As illustrated, when device 92 comes within the range of a control mechanism 91, a signal 94 may be received and cause device 92 to enter a quiet mode. When an event subsequently occurs in device 92, the device may determine that it is in a quiet mode and correspondingly transmit a signal 95 to alert mechanism 93. The alert mechanism may then alert the user of the occurrence of the event.
It will be understood that the foregoing is only illustrative of the principles of the invention and that various modifications can be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope and spirit of this invention, which is limited only by the claims that follow.
|Cited Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US5722071 *||Mar 27, 1996||Feb 24, 1998||Sony Corporation||Portable receiver including transducer for notifying user of messages received in a remote mobile communications device|
|US5896096 *||Jul 24, 1996||Apr 20, 1999||Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.||Paging receiver and a sequential vibrating method therefor|
|US5960367 *||Sep 17, 1996||Sep 28, 1999||Casio Computer Co., Ltd.||Incoming calling system|
|US6181237 *||Oct 19, 1999||Jan 30, 2001||Lucent Technologies Inc.||Method and apparatus for generating pressure based alerting signals|
|US6184796 *||Jan 19, 1996||Feb 6, 2001||Pacific Communication Sciences, Inc.||Method and apparatus for automatic telephone dialing from a pager message|
|US6218958 *||Oct 8, 1998||Apr 17, 2001||International Business Machines Corporation||Integrated touch-skin notification system for wearable computing devices|
|Citing Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US6650231 *||Jun 14, 2002||Nov 18, 2003||Matthew T. Byrne||Personal electronic device notification system|
|US6745054 *||Jan 31, 2002||Jun 1, 2004||Nokia Corporation||User interface assembly, and associated method, for alerting placement of a call to a mobile station|
|US6954659 *||Nov 23, 2004||Oct 11, 2005||World Mobile Technologies, Inc.||Fashion accessory with wireless signal alerting device|
|US6975240||Feb 18, 2003||Dec 13, 2005||Deacon Melissa M||Electronic alert response system|
|US7027840 *||Sep 17, 2003||Apr 11, 2006||Motorola, Inc.||Method and apparatus of muting an alert|
|US7130664||Jun 12, 2003||Oct 31, 2006||Williams Daniel P||User-based signal indicator for telecommunications device and method of remotely notifying a user of an incoming communications signal incorporating the same|
|US7203524||Oct 11, 2005||Apr 10, 2007||Tushinsky Robert J||Article with wireless signal alerting device|
|US7378939 *||Mar 30, 2004||May 27, 2008||Sengupta Uttam K||Method and apparatus for providing proximity based authentication, security, and notification in a wireless system|
|US7433649 *||Sep 10, 2004||Oct 7, 2008||Motorola, Inc.||Tag for facilitating interaction with a wireless communication device|
|US7496352||Mar 2, 2004||Feb 24, 2009||International Business Machines Corporation||Environmentally driven phone behavior|
|US7623845 *||May 20, 2005||Nov 24, 2009||Inventec Appliances Corp.||System for preventing unauthorized use of a mobile phone|
|US7627351 *||Jul 11, 2006||Dec 1, 2009||Rich Doug L||Cellular alert device|
|US7639130 *||Sep 28, 2006||Dec 29, 2009||Research In Motion Limited||System and method for controlling an enunciator on an electronic device|
|US7650170 *||Mar 1, 2004||Jan 19, 2010||Research In Motion Limited||Communications system providing automatic text-to-speech conversion features and related methods|
|US7937125||May 3, 2011||Research In Motion Limited||Communications system providing automatic text-to-speech conversion features and related methods|
|US8086289||Dec 27, 2011||Research In Motion Limited||Communications system providing automatic text-to-speech conversion features and related methods|
|US8140127 *||May 18, 2005||Mar 20, 2012||Broadcom Corporation||System and method for controlling notification characteristics of a mobile communication device|
|US8156809||Mar 27, 2008||Apr 17, 2012||Immersion Corporation||Systems and methods for resonance detection|
|US8167813||May 17, 2007||May 1, 2012||Immersion Medical, Inc.||Systems and methods for locating a blood vessel|
|US8200295||Jun 12, 2012||Research In Motion Limited||Communications system providing automatic text-to-speech conversion features and related methods|
|US8538386||Mar 1, 2004||Sep 17, 2013||Blackberry Limited||Communications system providing text-to-speech message conversion features using audio filter parameters and related methods|
|US8554254||Jun 11, 2012||Oct 8, 2013||Blackberry Limited||Communications system providing automatic text-to-speech conversion features and related methods|
|US8590379||Apr 13, 2012||Nov 26, 2013||Immersion Corporation||Systems and methods for resonance detection|
|US8594738||Sep 1, 2009||Nov 26, 2013||Qwest Communications International Inc.||System, method and apparatus for automatic location-based silencing of wireless transceivers|
|US8614627||Nov 17, 2009||Dec 24, 2013||Blackberry Limited||System and method for controlling an enunciator on an electronic device|
|US8626064 *||Nov 19, 2008||Jan 7, 2014||Ben Moore||Communication device|
|US8731531||Oct 7, 2013||May 20, 2014||Blackberry Limited||Communications system providing automatic text-to-speech conversion features and related methods|
|US8731538||Sep 1, 2009||May 20, 2014||Qwest Communications International Inc.||System, method, and apparatus for automatic scheduled silencing of wireless transmitters|
|US9060683 *||Mar 17, 2013||Jun 23, 2015||Bao Tran||Mobile wireless appliance|
|US9084080||Oct 16, 2013||Jul 14, 2015||Qwest Communications International Inc.||System, method and apparatus for automatic location-based silencing of wireless transceivers|
|US20020155810 *||Jan 25, 2002||Oct 24, 2002||Tate Curtis Robert||Device for controlling automotive audio systems and the like|
|US20050030928 *||Jun 29, 2004||Feb 10, 2005||Nokia Corporation||Provision of a data transmission connection|
|US20050059435 *||Sep 17, 2003||Mar 17, 2005||Mckee James Scott||Method and apparatus of muting an alert|
|US20050113081 *||Nov 23, 2004||May 26, 2005||Tushinsky Robert J.||Fashion accessory with wireless signal alerting device|
|US20050152325 *||Jan 12, 2005||Jul 14, 2005||Gonzales Gilbert R.||Portable and remotely activated alarm and notification tactile communication device and system|
|US20050191994 *||Mar 1, 2004||Sep 1, 2005||Research In Motion Limited, A Canadian Corporation||Communications system providing text-to-speech message conversion features using audio filter parameters and related methods|
|US20050192061 *||Mar 1, 2004||Sep 1, 2005||Research In Motion Limited||Communications system providing automatic text-to-speech conversion features and related methods|
|US20050197138 *||Mar 2, 2004||Sep 8, 2005||International Business Machines Corporation||Environmentally driven phone behavior|
|US20050221798 *||Mar 30, 2004||Oct 6, 2005||Intel Corporation||Method and apparatus for providing proximity based authentication, security, and notification in a wireless system|
|US20060009196 *||May 20, 2005||Jan 12, 2006||Inventec Appliances Corp.||System for preventing unauthorized use of a mobile phone|
|US20100124884 *||Nov 19, 2008||May 20, 2010||Ben Moore||Communication device|
|US20120169486 *||Mar 15, 2012||Jul 5, 2012||Embarq Holdings Company, Llc||System and method for a wireless ringer function|
|US20140266787 *||Mar 17, 2013||Sep 18, 2014||Bao Tran||Mobile wireless appliance|
|US20150011255 *||Sep 24, 2014||Jan 8, 2015||Mobilemedia Ideas Llc||Method of Giving the User Information and Portable Device|
|DE102005033594A1 *||Jul 19, 2005||Feb 1, 2007||Kadow, Christopher||Call signal transmitter for mobile phone, has vibration module connected with radio receiver, where module is activated and deactivated through receiver and battery is connected with radio receiver and module for power supply|
|EP2055141A2 *||Aug 8, 2006||May 6, 2009||Phonak AG||Methods and apparatuses related to hearing devices, in particular to maintaining hearing devices and to dispensing consumables therefore|
|WO2003065631A2 *||Jan 23, 2003||Aug 7, 2003||Federico Fraccaroli||User interface assembly, and associated method, for alerting placement of a call to a mobile station|
|U.S. Classification||340/7.58, 340/407.1, 455/567, 340/4.12|
|Cooperative Classification||H04M19/041, H04M19/047|
|Jul 25, 2005||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Mar 1, 2010||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Jul 22, 2010||SULP||Surcharge for late payment|
Year of fee payment: 7
|Jul 22, 2010||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8
|Feb 28, 2014||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Jul 23, 2014||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 12
|Jul 23, 2014||SULP||Surcharge for late payment|
Year of fee payment: 11